That ‘Judwaa 2’ is a reboot of the original ‘Judwaa’ is well known. That Varun Dhawan has loud comic chops is also well established. The question was always going to be: is the new version the gag-a-minute laugh-out-loud comedy that it promises to be?
Short answer: nope. The laughs are too scattered. Some scenes do make us guffaw; I found myself doubling over a couple of times; a few were quite chuckalcious. But for a David Dhawan film, this just isn’t enough: there’s too much slack, and a couple of japes are repeated so often that they get tiresome.
For those who do not remember the original, here’s a little recap. Prem and Raj (Varun, doing a double) are twins separated at birth. One grows up as a Ganapati Bappa loving tapori, who always wins in a scrum; the other is a piano-playing, ‘chashma’-wearing ‘seedha-saadha’ type who can’t raise his fists even. The twins, the girls they romance (Fernandez, Pannu), and the large supporting cast comprising ‘bachpan-mein-bichade’ mom-dad, best friends, villains, sidekicks all fetch up in London town, and go round and round till the big reveal.
Which happens well after it should have. And well after the jokes have curled up with overuse. When you first hear ‘Watermelon’, rhyming with ‘Dhillon’, you crack a smile. But not after the nth iteration of the clueless Punjabi cop and his overweight female partner: the latter is supposed to be funny because she is, in one word, fat. Sigh.
How long can the sight of native Africans in indigenous costumes be a trigger for laughter? It’s just a flash, but still. Duh, racism. Ditto for a character’s speech impairment: in his heyday, Dhawan could be hugely and flagrantly politically incorrect and still be funny because his writing was so sharp and the pace was so zippy that there was no time to think.
For a comedy whose plot would make a wafer look thin, the lines have to be razor sharp, and delivered in just the right rhythm. This is where the director falters, even as his son tries his best to give us two for the price of one on the other end of the screen.
Varun wades fully into both characters, and shows a nimble-footedness here and there. He is better at the broad, physical, crotch-lowering ‘gali ka gunda’, than the straight, subdued fella, and judging by the roars and claps of the mostly youthful crowd at the first-day, first-show, he knows it too. Fernandez and Pannu show up and do what they need to when called for: squeal and act surprised and swing to the beat; the latter making the most of her part. Pannu is the real surprise here, and a welcome one.
But the material gets too thin and stretched around Judwaa 2’s flab. A character keeps saying: ‘main seedha point pe aata hoon’. You wish the film did too.
Want to see what David Dhawan was capable of when he was on point? Watch the rollicking ‘Aankhen’, and while you’re at it, even the earlier ‘Judwaa’, when asking a girl out for a ‘nau se baarah’ show had real sting.
This one is strictly the Multiplex Millennial Two Point Oh version.